This article could possibly be one of the best I’ve read in motivational theories and practices. The authors; Katzenbach and Khan, had articulated the importance of emotional motivation wonderfully, especially in their discussion of the young lady at the Marines. Undoubtedly, I am one of the fans of the non-monetary motivational school. Managers have to quit the idea that money only motivates people. It is not the only, it is one of the means to motivate people. In my daily discussions with peers and superiors, I frequently refer to this idea and try to portray an implementation of the famous Maslow Pyramid within this context and towards understanding how to motivate different people differently. Different people, at different organizational positions have different motivational needs, and their managers should address such needs appropriately.

Katzenbach and Khan focus is to simply tell that money is not always the solution, emotional and pride-based motivation does do the job effectively well. Basically, I prefer to look into it from different perspective, the perspective of Abraham Maslow. Maslow pyramid (to refresh your mind) is depicted as follows:

(Maslow image by Wikipedia)

People joins organizations at different levels, and from different sources and experiences. There are interns, juniors, seniors, managers, executives, board members…etc. Therefore, each employee category has to be understood and motivated differently. Basically, managers have to know their subordinates and understand their motivational needs in alignment with each slab of Maslow Pyramid. A junior and fresh graduate employee goes to work to satisfy his basic physiological needs, in a majority of cases. He/She works to secure decent and appropriate living (this does not negate that he/she also seek challenging job with ability to innovate and lead. It’s the priority that differs). While, a senior associate with years of experience has a different motivational need, that could belong to the slab of ‘esteem’ or ‘self actualization’. He is more motivated if he is given the chance to lead an enterprise engagement, or address the board of directors or work within a value system of innovation and confidence. It’s very likely to frustrate that senior associate if you try to motivate him monetarily while disregarding his ability to lead or be exposed. In the same context, it might be very inappropriate to reward a junior engineer with a best of the month employee letter without any financial reward. Both employees have different motivational needs and managers have to address these accordingly.

Both categories of employees might still share some of the motivational needs, both have to be respected at work, and had confidence, however, at different priorities, and this is why a pyramid representation is used to explain Maslow ideas. I tend to think that for a juior employee, the basic needs of decent life are to be met and addressed first.

This is the power of Maslow Pyramid.

During my MBA studies, I came across over eleven theories on motivation; Equity theory, Expectancy × Value Theory, Self-Efficacy, Attribution Theory, Self-Worth Theory, Arousal and Anxiety and the list goes on. Leadership gurus have tried and debated just everything. What truly matters is the implmentation or application of theories in workplaces. Then, which one of these theories/practices managers have to effectively digest and apply in their workplaces! The answer: is any! There is no secret successful theory that negates or supercedes others. It’s the manager who best tweaks these theories and practices toward fitting his workplace and employees’ needs. I lean towards Maslow for its simplicity. Start by looking around, know your people, rank them accordingly and then motivate them.

Another aspect that Katzenbach and Khan did not address, at least in their article, is that employees with higher motivational needs (i.e. higher in the ranks in the Maslow Pyramid, senior people) usually quit their jobs due to dissatisfaction or disagreement with their managers, CEO’s or the organization on a plan, action, vision or operational aspect of their businesses. They generally are financially self-secured, and what motivates or passionates them is delivery, innovation and make others people happy and people lives easier and smoother. Those senior people are usually well-paid, and additional stocks or raises will not make them stay and work. For top management to deal with senior people from monetary perspective only is definitely narrow articulation of the true issues. Therefore, I do second Katzenbach and Khan that money is not simply the panacea.

I leave you with short snapshot of Katzenbach and Khan article, while you can read it full at Forbes by clicking here.

“The old Horatio Alger stories capture the American dream pretty well. Those who work hard, apply themselves and play fair, they tell us, will be amply rewarded. Those who avoid responsibility, exploit others and cheat will get their comeuppance. This notion is at the heart of American entrepreneurialism and professionalism, and of American artistic and sports endeavor as well.

So why do people like Jeffrey Skilling and Bernard Madoff get away with so much for so long? There is no simple answer, but those two were both in it for the money, it appears, and there is ample evidence to suggest that money may not be the best way to motivate desirable behavior. In fact, it may be one of the worst ways.

Most successful entrepreneurs say that their primary motivation has been to build something lasting, not to make a lot of money. Certainly great professional leaders like Marvin Bower, who built McKinsey & Co., John Whitehead, the former Goldman Sachs  ( GS  –  news  –  people ) senior partner, and Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens would tell us that their motivation came from the work itself, and that the lasting respect of others was far greater than money as a measure of accomplishment. And very few great artists are in it for the money. Money is a byproduct, and usually a secondary one at that, for such achievers.

Emotional sources of motivation are more powerful, and they are best conveyed informally in an organization through the respect of peers, the admiration of subordinates, the approval of one’s personal network and community and the like. Money becomes the default motivator because it is measurable, tangible and fungible — and trouble strikes when the prospect of a lot of money becomes the primary goal. That usually feeds a very self-serving emotion, greed.

What works better than money?”

Money Is Not The Best Motivator
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